Thursday, January 22, 2009

Carob Banana Muffins (Gluten Free, Casein Free)

Snow days are perfect days for baking. This week eastern North Carolina has been covered with over 6 inches of snow. It's a very rare occurence considering the last time we had this much snow was back in 2004!

The past few weeks I've been experimenting with low carb baking using ingredients like coconut flour, almond meal, soya powder, erythritol, stevia, ground flax seeds, etc... While I have enjoyed experimenting... Michael has been ready for some baked goods with real sugar and carbohydrates! There were several bananas lying on the counter that were sure to be tossed out if not used soon, so I decided to make some banana nut muffins with a twist!

Carob powder
is wonderful for gluten free baking. It can act as an allergen free flour and has a light, smooth, chocolate-like flavor. Carob accentuates the natural sweetness of bananas and the two form a lovely combination in these muffins.

These are definitely kid-friendly muffins that pack a healthy punch of nutrition using whole grains, coconut oil, hemp milk (or other non-dairy milk), ground flax seeds, and of course, bananas!

These muffins are naturally moist and delicious and the aroma while baking is heavenly!

You can certainly use a good quality cocoa powder in place of the carob powder if you'd like, but if you have carob powder on hand, certainly give it a try. Carob contains high amounts of calcium, potassium, riboflavin,and lots of healthy fiber. Perfect for a quick morning breakfast or a super afternoon pick-me-up!

Carob Banana Muffins

Dry Ingredients
1/4 cup millet flour -or- brown rice flour
1/4 cup unsweetened carob powder
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 heaping tablespoon ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup hemp milk -or- other non-dairy milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to a liquid
2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons quality vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar -or- sugar substitute of your choice

Add In's
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup carob chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl add all dry ingredients. Whisk together thoroughly until evenly incorporated. In a medium mixing bowl add warmed coconut oil, whisked eggs, mashed bananas, vanilla extract, and sugar or sugar substitute. Mix thoroughly and fold into dry ingredients. Batter will be very wet. Let batter rest for about 5-10 minutes before baking. Batter will thicken slightly. Grease or place paper liners in a cupcake/muffin tin. Fill each paper liner 3/4 full of batter. Bake for 18-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs. Do not overbake. Cool muffins on a wire rack before serving.

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Carrie's Notes:
  • Using Milk: I used a non-dairy milk in this recipe, but you can certainly replace it with 1/4 cup of yogurt, regular milk, buttermilk, soymilk etc... Get creative and use what you have on hand!
  • Sugar Free Muffins: If I had been making these muffins for myself I would have used 2/3 cup erythritol with a pinch of Nu Naturals Stevia. You can also use 2/3 cup agave nectar, honey, brown sugar, rapadura, sucanat, etc... or no sugar at all! It's up to you!
  • Oils and Fats: I find that you DO need some type of "fat" in muffins. If you leave out the fat, you leave out flavor and texture. You can substitute 2 tablespoons of applesauce in place of half the coconut oil. You can also use butter, Spectrum shortening, canola oil, etc... I find coconut oil to be extremely healthy and adds great texture to gluten free baked goods. You can purchase coconut oil here.
  • If you don't have bananas use 1 cup of mashed sweet potatoes, pure pumpkin puree, or any type of mashed winter squash!
  • If you don't have ground flax seeds, you can certainly leave them out of the recipe. I love adding a dash of ground flax seeds to nearly all my baking because it it SO full of healthy B vitamins, omega 3 oils, and serious fiber. Ground flax seeds are perfect for low carb baking because they have an equal amount of carbohydrates and fiber, so they technically have 0 net carbs! ;-)
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